Why Twitter is So Darn Important

Nov 18, 2012

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Too Busy for Twitter?

We talk to businesses about the importance of keeping up with the evolution of communication. Regardless of what business you are in or social circle you roam, communication is the key element to succeeding in your venture. Yet, almost universally I hear from business owners that they are “too busy for Twitter” or “just don’t get it”.


The Flood

About a year ago in my home town, the rains saturated the soil faster than it could absorb the moisture. Quickly, the river banks began to give way and floods started to overtake the city. A hundred years ago, it would have been months until news reached my doorstep (or cabin door as the case may be) about the event. Eighty years ago, I might have read about it a few weeks later in the newsprint. Fifty years ago I probably would have heard about it on the radio, or maybe saw something about it on my brand new talking machine called the television. Just a few short years ago, I would have likely caught it on the nightly news, or even read about it on an Internet news site. This is where I would say 90% or more of the population is at. They rely on the reports of news people to decided what news I need to hear and how it’s to be heard. Blogging certainly plays a role in this, but even then, at very most people have an RSS feed to their favorite blog, and might check it once a day.

Enter Twitter

As soon as the flood waters started to rise, a hashtag was created on twitter for people to use to discuss the flood. As an outside observer, I created a column on my twitter feed to follow this hashtag so that I could watch things as they were happening. Let me re-emphasis that, I was watching things as they were happening. Not just from news reporters (although they were there too) but from the people on the front lines. Pictures, video, insider tips, rescue efforts, calls for volunteers, it was magical. When I watched it on the evening news, everything was “old news” by that point.

A popular commercial a year or so ago, showed a family on the porch, all with their smart phones out. The Mom and Dad were annoying the kids because they were “Tweeting” about “being on the porch”. The kids would reply “Dad, we know you’re on the porch”. While comical, this commercial shows the general misunderstanding of what Twitter is and why it’s the next step in the communication evolution. I hear clients say “people don’t care what I had for breakfast, why would I put that on Twitter”, and you know what, their right. People don’t care what you have for breakfast, but they might be interested in why you are using a certain product, or what technique you are using to prepare it. You see, the key to understanding Twitter, is understanding that Twitter is not about you, it’s about the people, experiences, and companies you love.

I’ll admit that I often tweet about my breakfast. In a recent tweet I said “Our 200th blend this morning. Did that in only 3 months. Can’t believe how much we love & use our @Blendtec” Why did I write that? Because frankly, I love our BlendTec. Because of that love I want to share it with my circle of friends, clients, and contacts. Why? Because sharing is nice and makes me feel good, and I want to see a good company that makes a good product (a rare commodity in today’s world) succeed. Why wouldn’t I write about that and want to share it with my friends? Now the next thing that happens is really cool. Because BlendTec gets my tweet in their timeline, and wants to broadcast to their audience that I am a happy and loyal customer, they Re-Tweet my Tweet (stay with me now), and say “Great! @MichealGreen Happy 200th Blend, and many more blends to come!”. Now, I have been mentioned to the 5,663 followers of BlendTec and will appear in their timelines across their computer screens or mobile phones. Now I have an introduction from BlendTec to their “followers”. Starting to see the value here?

Another common misunderstanding is: “It’s like myspace with a bunch of foul mouthed teenagers”. While there certainly is some of that, Twitter has ingeniously created the interface so that the conversation is tailored just to you and your interests. Trust me, the name Justin Beiber has never crossed my timeline. My timeline is filled with tweets about business, triathlons, and vegetarian cooking. Why? Because that’s what I care about, and it is where I spend my money.

Many people think that Twitter is a fad. I’ve heard that since I joined in 2009. In the mean time, Twitter’s growth has been astounding. Almost any company worth it’s salt put’s Twitter and Facebook logos on their ads. That should be enough of a testimonial for you and your business. My question to you is: What do you care if Twitter is a fad? That’s where the conversation is. Are you going to talk to your customers and potential customers, or allow your competition to do all the talking.

My challenge to you is to stop missing the conversation. Take the 30 minutes of your precious time and invest it learning Twitter. Trust me, if you invest 30 minutes, you’ll be a seasoned expert. It’s really that easy.

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